Can the Montreal Cognitive Assessment and Mini-Mental State Examination detect cognitive decline in elderly patients with essential tremor?

Margaret McGurn, Jordan D. Dworkin, Silvia Chapman, Edward D. Huey, Stephanie Cosentino, Elan D. Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective Given the association between essential tremor (ET) and higher rates of cognitive decline, assessing this decline is an important element of research and clinical care. The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) are two broad, brief measures that are widely used to monitor cognitive impairment in various neurological disorders. We sought to determine the relative ability of the MoCA and the MMSE to detect cognitive decline in elderly patients with ET. Methods We administered a neuropsychological battery to an ET cohort every 18 months over 4.5 years. We defined the gold standard for change in cognition as the change in neuropsychological test scores over consecutive evaluations and applied the Reliable Change Method to detect meaningful increases/decreases in test scores. We performed receiver operating characteristics (ROC) analysis to quantify the area under the curve (AUC) and compare the ability of the MoCA and the MMSE to detect cognitive decline. Results The AUCs for the MoCA and the MMSE did not differ significantly at any interval or when all intervals were pooled for analysis. Across all intervals, the ability of the MoCA and the MMSE to detect cognitive decline was consistently fair or poor. Conclusions We found that the ability of the MoCA and the MMSE to detect cognitive decline in ET patients over 18-month intervals is inadequate. Unchanged scores on the MoCA and the MMSE in ET over time should be approached with caution. We propose that these screening tools should be supplemented with additional neuropsychological tests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical Neuropsychologist
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • cognitive decline
  • essential tremor
  • Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE)
  • Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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